National Bioenergy Day celebrated in U.S., Canada

By Anna Simet | October 21, 2015

On the morning of Oct. 21 and into the afternoon, Koda Energy LLC in Shakopee, Minnesota, welcomed members of general public onsite to learn about the facility and its partners. Via a guided tour, attendees gained a first-hand understanding of how the plant operates and its benefits to the surrounding community.

The facility is a joint partnership of Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community and Rahr Malting, the largest single-site malt production facility in the world. Koda, which is colocated with Rahr, combusts malt byproducts as fuel, as well as other raw materials including wood chips, to generate electricity and thermal energy that is supplied back to Rahr.

Interested in expanding its use of renewable biomass fuel, it is possible Koda may eventually integrate switchgrass into its proprietary, powder-like fuel blend, Chief Engineer Eric Hansen told tour goers. The big question is whether the fees associated with handling and preparing the grass, when combined with transport costs, will be a roadblock. “It’s not out of the question, but if it is a source, it won’t be a large percentage,” Hansen said, adding that Koda’s current fuel can he hauled at a rate of about 23 per tons per truck; switchgrass runs roughly at 10 tons per truck.

The event was part of the third annual National Bioenergy Day, which was celebrated across the U.S. and in Canada with several dozens of events hosted at biomass power plants, universities, facilities with wood chip and pellet heating systems and many other locations, with more events to continue throughout the week.

Now in its third year, National Bioenergy Day is led by Biomass Power Association in partnership with U.S. Forest Service, supported by the Pellet Fuels Institute and Biomass Thermal Energy Council.